ARU chief Pulver proud of anti-doping record
February 7, 2013
Bill Pulver is confident that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue at the elite level of the game. © Getty Images
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is proud of its anti-doping record, but four amateur players have tested positive to banned substances over the past two years, chief executive Bill Pulver says.
Speaking at a press conference in Canberra to announce a government-led probe into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Australian sport, Pulver promised the code's "complete cooperation".
Pulver said the establishment of the ARU's Integrity Office in 2010 had already strengthened the code's fight against illegal drugs, but he accepted that it would be "naive" to believe rugby union was immune to the issue.
"And I can tell you quite openly that over the last two years that office has actually prosecuted four cases in relation to breaches of our anti-doping code," Pulver said.
"Three of those cases related to incidences of amateur players outside the metropolitan area in possession of performance-enhancing drugs, and they were banned for the game for two years. The other case involved again an amateur player outside the metropolitan area with possession and attempted distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, and that player was banned for four years. They are the only cases I'm aware of in relation to the Australian Rugby Union. My view is that our integrity office is doing a very good job. We have a very comprehensive program of education and testing in place."
Pulver is confident that performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue at the elite level of the game, but he promised the ARU would remain vigilant.
"At the professional level we have one Wallabies team, five Super Rugby franchises and a men's and women's sevens team, and our plan throughout 2013 is 222 individual tests at that level which I think is reasonably comprehensive," he said.
"Having said that, and actually being quite proud of our record in relation to anti-doping policies, I think it would be naive of the ARU and the Australian rugby community to believe that this is not an issue that spans all professional sports.
"And so as a consequence, from our perspective you are going to see complete cooperation with the Australian Crime Commission and ASADA into putting initiatives in place to protect the integrity of Australian sport."
Drew Mitchell believes the code already does enough to educate players but says the onus is ultimately on individuals to ensure they play within the rules.
"Certainly here with the rugby union and also the players' association there are always educational seminars (that we can attend)," the Wallabies winger said.
"We're well versed in what we can and can't do and with our whereabouts and all of that type of thing with WADA, we have to verify where we are.
"So there's a real understanding right from your first day in a professional environment to guys who are retiring, that ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.
"Anything that you take, even cold and flu (tablets) these days, you've just got to make the call or check it up on the website ... it's not really that hard to check something pretty quickly if it means the ramifications might be a two-year break."
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